Let’s be honest, for single parents travel of any description can be a complete nightmare! But it doesn’t have to be … it can be fun and incredibly rewarding. So, here’s my collection of travel tips and tricks to help make your single parent holiday a stress-free adventure!
1. Do Your Research #1 Single Parents Travel Tip!
You’ll save time, money and stress by checking out your accommodation BEFORE you book and before you travel! As a single parent traveling with kids, it’s comforting to know that all the essentials you want, like cots and high-chairs, will be waiting for you when you arrive. If you’re hoping for the odd night out (solo!!) you’ll also want to make sure they have a babysitting service and that you’re happy with how it’s organised. You might also value a laundry service and kids clubs.
Think carefully about where your hotel is located too and try to stay as close as you can to the things you want to see and do! You might have to spend a little more, but you’ll save time and money when you are away on transport, and you and your child will be so much happier!!
2. Take a First Aid Kit!
When you’re enjoying your single parents travel time, you won’t want the horror of carting a sick child round foreign pharmacies, hoping to find the meds you need. Save yourself a whole bundle of stress by stocking up on all the meds you might need before you travel. It’s good to have something in your first aid kit for aches and pains, upset tummies, fevers, allergies, bites and stings. Remember to take along any prescription meds you need too as it could be a real challenge (and expense!) to get these abroad.
3. Pre-Book Your Transfers
Picture the scene – you’re travelling today and you forgot to book a taxi to/from the airport/station. Every number you’ve tried is busy or there’s a massive queue for taxis. You’re tired, you have a gazillion bags (and ‘stuff’) to keep an eye on, the kids are grumpy already and your stress level is hitting the roof.
Save your sanity, splash the cash and PRE-BOOK your travel at both ends of your journey! You will thank yourself for it when you arrive at your destination feeling (relatively) fresh. For me, this is an essential not a luxury!
If you’re planning to drive to the airport, you’ll want to pre-book your parking. Here’s where you can put your feet up and compare 204 car parking options at 27 UK airports with Holiday Extras
4. Tell Your Bank You’re Traveling
Banks have technology that monitors how and where you spend your money, to help protect you against fraud. If you don’t let them know you’ll be travelling (and using your card in another country) you run the risk of your card getting blocked. And that’s no fun when you’re away with the kids. Don’t forget to make that call!
It’s also advisable to take at least 2 cards with you. That way, if one card gets stopped or stolen (or eaten by the ATM), you can still function financially.
5. Give The Kids Responsibilities
Depending on your child’s age, there are some simple tasks and responsibilities you can give them while you’re away from home.
My son had a much-loved Trunki Ride-on Suitcase (The Trunkisaurus Rex) which he had responsibility for packing. It always contained a pair of PJs, a book and his favourite cuddly toys. He got to choose what went in Trunki, and he was responsible for towing it through airports.
I loved the fact that he could sit on it and simply get towed along when he was tired, and that he could sit comfortably on it on long, boring queues (so much better than sitting on grubby floors).
Seriously, Trunki was a Godsend and we were both sad when he outgrew it!
As he got a bit bigger, I gave my son responsibility for the ‘have we left anything behind’ check. That quick double-check you do to make sure you haven’t left any bags/coats/toys etc behind. (Of course, I was checking too!)
Then we moved on him having navigating responsibilities. Learning how to check which platform/gate a train/plane departs from. All of which helped when he flew solo last summer for the first time (aged 12).
6. Leave The High-End Buggy at Home
But – don’t waste your money on one of the super-cheap ones either! We had one (once) and it was clumsy, difficult to open/close and uncomfortable (zero padding on the seat). Plus, there was no sun parasol (an essential for a beach holiday) and no shopping tray either. It went straight in the bin when we got home.
A good low/mid-range buggy will be a great help while you’re away and you won’t need to worry about sticky fingers or sand in the wheels if you haven’t forked out a fortune for it.
Be prepared to have to leave your buggy at the gate before you board, and that it might not be available again until you reach baggage reclaim. It can be a REALLY long walk, when you have to carry a sleeping child and lots of hand luggage …
7. Check In Online
Online check in is an absolute-brainer! Cutting out that huge check in queue at the airport is the way to go when you’re embarking on single parents travel!
8. Skip The Sugary Snacks
As a parent, of course you’ll want to pack some snacks for the journey to ward off those ‘hungry monster’ moments.
A word of caution – travel is definitely not the time to fill your little cherub up with sugar, unless you want to be dealing with a hyper-active, sticky-fingered demon on your journey.
Fruit is a great way to satisfy those demands for a sweet fix. It’s easy to pack too without worries about lots of mess. You can pick up handy single portion packs in most supermarkets – or just take bananas!
A little tip – don’t take those little tubes of yoghurt with you. It’s a disaster waiting to happen!
If the yoghurt hasn’t already ‘turned’ in your bag, you can almost guarantee that most of it will not end up in your little one’s mouth. And there’s every chance that it’ll end up on another passenger’s clothes/seat. I have that ‘T’ shirt…one of my less glorious single parents travel moments…
9. Be Nice to the Crew!
trolly dollies flight attendants are there to help you so don’t be too proud to ask!
10. Invest in Great Headphones
Getting a pair of Noise Cancelling Headphones is a fantastic investment when you’re a single parent travelling with kids. All forms of transport can be pretty noisy, and a decent set of headphones will shield your child from that noise. It’s also the perfect way to help them nap as you travel. A total winner.
Please do share your own single parents travel tips and experiences. Wishing you and yours a completely fabulous holiday!